Trump can’t delay the election, but he can try to delegitimise it




David Smith, University of Sydney

Americans were alarmed last week when their president suggested on Twitter that the November 3 presidential election should be delayed because mail-in ballots would be fraudulent.

The president has no authority to change the date of an election. The US Constitution gives that power to Congress alone, and Republicans in Congress, including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, quickly dismissed any possibility of delay.

Trump’s tweet nonetheless caused widespread dismay. Much of it came from conservatives who usually defend him. Editors of conservative journal National Review called it:

[…] an incendiary and absurd idea unworthy of being spoken — or even thought — by a president of the United States.

Federalist Society founder Steven Calabresi condemned Trump’s tweet as “fascistic” and wrote it was “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment”. Not even Fox News entertained the idea.

But the real danger here isn’t the possibility that Trump would delay the election, which his own allies won’t allow. It is his campaign to delegitimise the election in advance.




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Trump has long made baseless complaints about voter fraud to cast doubt on election results. Throughout 2016 as he trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls, he repeatedly said the election would be “rigged”. Even after he won in the electoral college, he insisted he also would have won the popular vote but for ““millions of people who voted illegally”.

Unlike his ideas about delaying the election, Trump’s claims about widespread voter fraud have significant traction on the right. For years conservative activists have used vastly exaggerated claims about voter fraud to justify measures that suppress minority turnout.

With his standing in the polls again precarious, mail-in ballots have become the latest targets of Trump’s obsession with “fraudulent” voting, despite the fact he and 15 other members of his White House staff have recently voted by mail.

Two-thirds of voters support increased availability of mail voting to ensure safety during the pandemic. Both Republican and Democratic states have moved to expand access to mail voting. Trump has responded with completely unsupported assertions that foreign governments could forge mail ballots en masse.

A genuine problem is that a greatly increased volume of mail ballots could overwhelm the postal service. This already happened in the primaries. In some states large numbers of votes had to be discarded because they arrived after the election.

There are currently endemic delays in the United States Postal Service resulting from cost-cutting measures introduced last month by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump fundraiser. These measures are supposed to deal with a longstanding “financial crisis” in the USPS.

This crisis is itself a political creation. It has its origin in punitive legislation from 2006 forcing the USPS to fully fund its pensions 75 years in advance. No other business in America faces this requirement.

The day after Trump’s “delay the election?” tweet he had another tweet that got less blowback but was nearly as ominous.

If this year’s primaries are any guide there is every chance election results will not be known for days, especially if the vote is close.

While some states like Colorado developed fast and efficient systems for processing mail ballots, in other states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, outdated technology and legislation hamper the count.

Usually, the expansion of mail voting does not affect either party’s share of the turnout or vote. But Trump’s campaign against mail voting may create serious partisan imbalances in modes of voting as Republicans refuse mail ballots on principle. If mail voting leans Democratic while in-person voting leans Republican, election night results in some states could change significantly as mail ballots are counted for days afterwards.

Some commentators fear Trump will declare victory based on early results, then claim the election is being stolen by “fraudulent” mail ballots.

It is not encouraging that Trump has refused to commit to accepting the election results and that Attorney-General William Barr has been equivocal.




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But other commentators, noting his long record of unfulfilled threats, say Trump is unlikely to try to “steal” the election by refusing to leave office (as Joe Biden suggested he might). While Trump’s Republican allies have generally stuck with him throughout his numerous assaults on democratic norms, their reactions to his “delay” tweet show there are limits to what they will tolerate when it comes to attacks on the peaceful transition of power.

If Trump loses narrowly, the problem may not be removing him from office. It may be a further deepening of political polarisation in the United States. There have been partisan attacks on the legitimacy of the last four presidents. Trump could become a new “lost cause” figure whose supporters never accept his defeat and whose “betrayal” accelerates right-wing radicalism in the Republican Party.

Biden has a good chance of winning the election, but his chances of restoring “normality” are a lot worse.The Conversation

David Smith, Senior Lecturer in American Politics and Foreign Policy, US Studies Centre, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Rogue poll or not, all the signs point to a tectonic shift in New Zealand politics


Richard Shaw, Massey University

Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour Party at 60.9% and for National at 25.1% – suggests the team is not looking that strong at all.

Nor will it be having much to say on jobs or the economy following the general election on September 19 if those numbers are close to the result.

As you might expect, National’s leadership dismissed the poll as rogue, saying the party’s internal polling (which hasn’t been publicly released) puts it in a much stronger position.

But this latest poll is consistent with three others released since May (June 1, June 25 and July 15). Averaged out, these polls put support for Labour and National at 55.5% and 29.1% respectively.

That is quite the gap. Assuming they are broadly accurate, what do they tell us about the state of politics in Aotearoa New Zealand?

The centre is now centre-left

For a start, the political centre appears to be shifting to the left. Across the past four polls, support for Labour and the Greens sits around 62%. When nearly two out of three voters in a naturally conservative nation support the centre-left, something is going on.

Correspondingly, as the notional median voter shifts left, parties on the right are being left high and dry. The Reid Research poll put the combined support for National, ACT and New Zealand First at 30.4%, a touch under half the level of support for the centre-left.




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In 2017 National secured nearly 45% of the party vote. Nearly half of that support has bled away – and most of it hasn’t gone to other conservative parties. New Zealand First is on life support; the right-wing ACT party is at 3%; and the other centre-right parties (including the New Conservatives, the Outdoors Party and the conspiratorially inclined Advance NZ/Public Party coalition) are well off the pace.

The leadership gap

Then there is the question of leadership. Judith Collins was installed in an attempt to re-establish National’s bona fides as New Zealand’s natural party of government. But she has not had the impact Jacinda Ardern did when she took Labour’s reins several weeks out from the 2017 election.

In fact, while 25% of those polled by Reid Research support National, the party’s leader sits at only 14% in the preferred prime minister stakes: nearly half of those who would vote National do not rate Collins as the prime minister.

The polling suggests that Collins’s penchant for attack politics is not resonating with voters. She has not been helped by the recent antics of (now departed or demoted) caucus colleagues Hamish Walker, Michael Woodhouse and Andrew Falloon, but the buck stops with her.

National’s default claim of being the better economic manager also took a blow in the most recent poll. Asked who they trusted most with the post-COVID economy, 62.3% of respondents preferred a Labour-led government and only 26.5% a National-led one.

Could we see an outright majority?

Something may be about to happen to the shape of our governments. Under New Zealand’s previous first-past-the-post (FPP) electoral system we saw a string of manufactured governing majorities.

For the better part of the 20th century either National or (less frequently) Labour would win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives with a minority of the popular vote. Indeed, the last time any party won a majority of the popular vote was 1951.

That may be about to change. Since the first mixed member proportional (MMP) election in 1996 we have not had a single-party majority government: multi-party (and often minority) governments have become the norm. That is because MMP does not permit manufactured majorities in the way FPP does. To win an outright majority you need to enjoy the support of a (near) majority of voters.




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Labour may be on the verge of doing precisely that. If it does, it will be a very different kind of single-party majority government to those formed after FPP elections.

In 1993, for instance, the National Party formed a single-party majority government on the basis of just 35% of the vote. If Labour is in a position to govern alone (even if Ardern looks to some sort of arrangement with the Greens) it will be because a genuine majority of voters want it to.

Rogue poll or outlier on the same trend, Collins has had her honeymoon (if it can even be called that). In a way, though, neither Ardern nor Collins is the real story here. Much can and will happen between now and September 5 when advance voting begins. But something bigger and more fundamental may be going on.

If the pollsters are anywhere near right, New Zealanders will look back at the 2020 election as one of those epochal events when the electoral tectonic plates moved.The Conversation

Richard Shaw, Professor of Politics, Massey University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

As the US election looms, Trump is running as hard against China as he is against Biden



Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Tony Walker, La Trobe University

In the Rose Garden of the White House earlier month the world witnessed a signal moment: a foreign power was catapulted into an American presidential election campaign in a way not witnessed in generations.

“Joe Biden and President Obama freely allowed China to pillage our factories, plunder our communities and steal our secrets,” US President Donald Trump told reporters.

Actually, this was less a press event than an opportunity for Trump to vent his frustrations over the damage a virus that originated in China had inflicted on his re-election prospects. This is a contagion the president refers to as the “kung flu”.

One of the consequences of a spreading virus and spiralling death rates is the Trump campaign is deprived of its favoured campaigning vehicle: mass rallies in which the president agitates his base.

The rambling rose garden critique of China might simply be dismissed as part of a typical American election season in which hyperbole replaces reason. However, Trump’s battering ram approach to China carries real risks for a shaky global environment that is being undermined in any case by lack of stable American leadership.




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The risk of an escalation, military or otherwise, in a simmering Sino-US relationship are real.

For countries like Australia in danger of being dragged into the slipstream of an ill-thought-through American containment policy, dictated by short-term political considerations, these are awkward moments.

US President Donald Trump addresses media in the White House Rose Garden.
US President Donald Trump addresses media in the White House Rose Garden.
Evan Vucci/EPA/AAP

Australia is particularly vulnerable because of its economic dependence on China, destination for two-thirds of its good and services exports. Australia’s security reliance on America compounds the issue.

In his rambling critique of China, which stretched over an hour, Trump repeated a series of fabrications.

Typical of the half-truths and outright mistruths that characterised the speech was his assault on the World Trade Organisation. The WTO has, in any case, been neutered by a US refusal to confirm new appointees to its dispute resolution processes.

Trump’s claim that before China joined the WTO in 2001 its economy had been “flat-lining for years” is not true. China’s economic growth rates prior to 2001 had on occasions reached double digits.

Likewise, his insistence that “hundreds of billions of dollars were taken out of the United States Treasury in order to rebuild China” is absurd.

China has taken advantage of its developing country status, but to suggest its success was achieved at the expense of a US economy and consumer that have benefited from low-cost Chinese products is a fallacy.

After all, rather than taking money out of the US Treasury to “rebuild China”, Beijing is the world’s largest holder of US Treasury bonds.

There is some irony in all of this.

On his re-emergence from the nightmare years of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader and architect of its opening to the outside world, had urged his fellow Chinese to “seek truth from facts”.

This was Deng’s attempt to lay to rest the pernicious effects of propaganda and prejudice that had held back China over much of the Mao period.

In America’s own cultural revolution, facts get buried under an avalanche of baloney.

What is absolutely clear, less than four months out from an election on November 3, is that Trump is running as hard against China as he is against Joe Biden, or a combination of both.

This is a war for re-election by other means. It is a war that risks becoming needlessly disruptive.

Election campaigns tend to expose faultlines. 2020 will do that in spades.

The US, Trump claimed, had lost 10,000 factories while Biden was vice president.

Trump went on about Biden and the Chinese for paragraph after paragraph of accusations such as: “Joe Biden’s entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Democratic contender for president Joe Biden.
Trump is running as hard against China as he is against Joe Biden.
Christopher Dolan/EPA/AAP

What does Biden do about an onslaught against his credibility that seeks to play on American prejudices about foreign influence and entirely legitimate concerns about China’s ruthless pursuit of its own interests?

Trump has much to work with in his criticisms of Biden, whose legislative career in Congress stretches back over a generation, and of his role as Obama’s vice president.

This extended period coincided with US attempts to draw China into the community of nations as a responsible global stakeholder.

Biden’s record is that of a liberal internationalist who championed America’s engagement with the international community. His views are light-years from the “America First” mindset of the Trump White House.




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He can’t walk away from these viewpoints. But nor will he be able to ignore criticisms levelled at him that he has been too accommodating towards China. This critique will come in a barrage of television advertisements that will leave little to the imagination.

In the Republican campaign, China will be reborn as a red menace, or yellow peril, and its leadership branded a bunch of “Chi-comms” (Chinese communists) bent on taking over the world, even if Cold War terminology is not replicated.

Biden’s best line of defence will probably lie not in trying to outbid Trump on China, but in pointing out that, in many respects, China policy over the past three years has been a failure.

Writing in The Atlantic, Philip Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations observes that none of the goals Trump outlined in his 2016 bid for the presidency regarding China had been realised.

The bilateral trade deficit in China’s favour is about the same as when Trump came to office; manufactured goods exports to China have fallen; manufacturing jobs have not returned to the United States; and China’s “nefarious” trade and cyber practices have intensified.

In other words, China has become more unresponsive to outside pressures, not more amenable.

In recent days, Beijing has reneged on its commitments to respect Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” sovereignty. It continues to expand its footprint in the South China Sea, and is bullying its neighbours in those waters. Finally, it is also flagrantly abusing the human rights of its Uighur minority population.

All this despite a lot of sound and fury emanating from Washington where a president has provided conflicting signals – one day, praising President Xi Jinping, the next lambasting the Chinese. One day pleading with Xi to do a trade deal to help him get re-elected, the next day leveraging America’s allies to exclude Huawei from a build-out of their 5G networks.

In Beijing, Chinese officials will be observing an American melodrama with bemusement. China will be taking a long view of what must seem to its leaders, behind the vermillion walls of the Forbidden City, like an American version of Peking Opera, in which stereotypes of the good, bad and ugly are paraded on stage.

A recent post by Brookings, the liberal think-tank, made a lot of sense in its advice to Biden. This might be absorbed in Canberra where China hawks inside and outside Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office have been running riot.

Democrats’ policy toward China should not just be about the United States and what happens inside Washington. It must be driven by a realistic and objective assessment of the Chinese government’s behavior internationally.

What is clear is that we are living through a moment in history when decisions now about managing China’s rise will have consequences long into the future. This is a time for steadiness and resolve among friends and allies.The Conversation

Tony Walker, Adjunct Professor, School of Communications, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

With prizes, food, housing and cash, Putin rigged Russia’s most recent vote



Russian President Vladimir Putin at a polling station to cast his ballot in a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms in Moscow on July 1, 2020.
Alexey Druzhinin/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Regina Smyth, Indiana University

When Russians voted in early July on 200 constitutional amendments, officials rigged the election to create the illusion that President Vladimir Putin remains a popular and powerful leader after 20 years in office.

In reality, he increasingly relies on manipulation and state repression to maintain his presidency. Most Russians know that, and the world is catching up.

At the center of the changes were new rules to allow Putin to evade term limits and serve two additional terms, extending his tenure until 2036. According to official results, Putin’s regime secured an astounding victory, winning 78% support for the constitutional reform, with 64% turnout. The Kremlin hailed the national vote as confirmation of popular trust in Putin.

The vote was purely symbolic. The law governing constitutional change does not require a popular vote. By March 2020, the national legislature, Constitutional Court and Russia’s 85 regional legislatures had voted to enact the proposed amendments.

Yet, the president insisted on a show of popular support and national unity to endorse the legal process.

The Kremlin’s goal was to make Putin’s 2024 reelection appear inevitable. Given the stakes, the outcome was never in doubt – but it did little to resolve uncertainty over Russia’s future.

Declining social support

Why hold a vote if a vote isn’t needed?

As a scholar of Russian electoral competition, I see the constitutional vote as a first step in an effort to prolong Putin’s 20-year tenure as the national leader. The Kremlin’s success defined the legal path to reelection and the strategy for securing an electoral majority in the face of popular opposition.

Protesters in line at the presidential administration in Moscow, waiting to deliver statements that they don’t accept the results of the constitutional amendment vote, July 4, 2020.
Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Its effect on societal attitudes is less clear. A recent poll by the independent polling organization the Levada Center showed that while 52% of respondents supported Putin’s reelection, 44% opposed. At the same time, 59% want to introduce a 70-year-old age cap for presidential candidates. This change would bar the 68-year-old president from running again.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

The government’s disorganized and weak response to COVID-19 highlighted the inefficient and corrupt system and produced an unprecedented drop in Putin’s public approval ratings.

Growing signs of popular discontent in Russia suggest this polling data underestimates demand for change. Local protest against pollution, trash incineration and state reforms continue to grow across the Federation. Focus group data reveals that ordinary Russians are concerned about state repression and civil rights violations.

In the leadup to the constitutional vote, internet influencers read the public mood and refused payments for their endorsement, fearing a backlash from followers and advertisers.

A new Putin majority

Declining popular support highlights the difficulty of building a new voting coalition. Manufacturing a demonstration of national unity was the first step in reinventing Putin’s links to core supporters in the runup to the next national election cycle.

By 2012, Putin’s first coalition, forged in the economic recovery of the early 2000s, was eroded by chronic economic stagnation punctuated by crisis.

In the mid-2010s, Putin’s new majority was based on aggressive foreign policy actions. That coalition declined, as conflicts in Ukraine and Syria dragged on, and public support for expensive foreign policy adventures decreased.

The constitutional vote marks Putin’s third attempt to reconstruct electoral support rooted in patriotism, conservative values and state paternalism that echoes the Soviet era.

Fixing the vote

The constitutional reform campaign focused on state benefits rather than the Putin presidency.

Putin offered something for everyone in the 200 amendments.

As an antidote to unpopular pension reforms, a new provision guarantees pensioners annual adjustments linked to inflation. Other amendments codified existing policies guaranteeing housing and a minimum wage. New clauses codify Putin’s version of conservative values, with measures that add a reference to God, a prohibition against same-sex marriage and support for patriotic education. Other provisions take aim at corruption, by prohibiting state officials from holding offshore accounts.

A massive PR campaign framed starkly different appeals to different voter groups. For those concerned with international security, ads depicted apocalyptic visions of Russia’s future after a NATO invasion. For younger voters, appeals depicted happy families voting to support a bright future.

State television featured supportive cultural icons and artists, including Patriarch Kirill, who is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin himself argued that participation was a patriotic duty. No one mentioned the controversial loophole that would allow Putin to run again.

The campaign foretold the outcome: The regime would stop at nothing to secure success. Officials coerced employees of government agencies and large businesses to turn out. Voters were offered prizes, food and chances to win new housing and cash for participating.

Ostensibly in response to COVID-19, the Electoral Commission altered voting procedures to evade observation, developing a flawed online voting system and creating mobile polling stations in parks, airports and outside apartment blocks. There is overwhelming evidence that the Kremlin resorted to falsification to produce the desired outcome.

Most Russians understand that the manufactured outcome does not accurately reflect attitudes about Putin’s reelection.

Limits of disinformation

There is growing evidence that the public is no longer persuaded by disinformation and political theater such as the rigged constitutional vote. Trust in state media, the president and the government are declining precipitously.

Members of a local electoral commission empty a ballot box at a polling station, July 1, 2020.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

The realities of sustained economic stagnation and the Kremlin’s anemic response to COVID-19 stand in sharp contrast to its all-out approach to the symbolic national vote. It can rig a vote, but it can’t control a virus.

The Kremlin’s pandemic response raises doubts about its ability to fulfill new constitutional mandates. Widely publicized efforts to reform the Soviet-era health care system still left hospitals unprepared to manage the pandemic. The state proved incapable of delivering bonuses to first responders and medical workers. The Kremlin refused to use its substantial emergency fund to support entrepreneurs, families with children and the unemployed.

Given these realities, upcoming elections will test the illusion of a new pro-Putin majority defined by this rigged vote. And if the voters abandon Putin, the new Constitution provides a final path to remain in office: the unelected chairmanship of the powerful new State Council.The Conversation

Regina Smyth, Professor, Indiana University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

As Minneapolis burns, Trump’s presidency is sinking deeper into crisis. And yet, he may still be re-elected



Sipa USA Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sip

Timothy J. Lynch, University of Melbourne

Violence has erupted across several US cities after the death of a black man, George Floyd, who was shown on video gasping for breath as a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck. The unrest poses serious challenges for President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden as each man readies his campaign for the November 3 election.

If the coronavirus had not already posed a threat to civil discourse in the US, the latest flashpoint in American racial politics makes this presidential campaign potentially one of the most incendiary in history.

COVID-19 and Minneapolis may very well form the nexus within which the 2020 campaign will unfold. Trump’s critics have assailed his handling of both and questioned whether he can effectively lead the country in a moment of crisis.

And yet, he may not be any more vulnerable heading into the election.

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A presidency in crisis?

As the incumbent, Trump certainly faces the most immediate challenges. Not since Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war has a US president presided over the deaths of so many Americans from a single cause.

The Axis powers and COVID-19 are not analogous, but any presidency is judged by its capacity to respond to enemies like these. With pandemic deaths now surpassing 100,000, Trump’s fortunes will be inexorably tied to this staggering (and still rising) figure.

Worse, the Minneapolis protests are showing how an already precarious social fabric has been frayed by the COVID-19 lockdowns.




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Americans have not come together to fight the virus. Rather, they have allowed a public health disaster to deepen divisions along racial, economic, sectional and ideological lines.

Trump has, of course, often sought to gain from such divisions. But the magnitude and severity of the twin crises he is now facing will make this very difficult. By numerous measures, his is a presidency in crisis.

And yet.

Trump, a ferocious campaigner, will try to find ways to use both tragedies to his advantage and, importantly, makes things worse for his challenger.

For starters, Trump did not cause coronavirus. And he will continue to insist that his great geo-strategic adversary, the Chinese Communist Party, did.

And his is not the first presidency to be marked by the conflagration of several US cities.

Before Minneapolis, Detroit (1967), Los Angeles (1992) and Ferguson, Missouri (2014) were all the scenes of angry protests and riots over racial tensions that still haven’t healed.

And in the 19th century, 750,000 Americans were killed in a civil war that was fought over whether the enslavement of African-Americans was constitutional.

Trump may not have healed racial tensions in the US during his presidency. But, like coronavirus, he did not cause them.

How Trump can blame Democrats for Minneapolis

Not unhappily for Trump, Minneapolis is a largely Democratic city in a reliably blue state. He will campaign now on the failure of Democratic state leaders to answer the needs of black voters.

Trump will claim that decades of Democratic policies in Minnesota – including the eight years of the Obama administration – have caused Minneapolis to be one of the most racially unequal cities in the nation.

In 2016, Trump famously asked African-Americans whether Democratic leaders have done anything to improve their lives.

What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?

He will repeat this mantra in the coming months.

It also certainly helps that his support among Republican voters has never wavered, no matter how shocking his behaviour.

He has enjoyed a stable 80% approval rating with GOP voters throughout the coronavirus crisis. This has helped keep his approval rating among all voters steady as the pandemic has worsened, hovering between 40 and 50%.

These are not terrible numbers. Yes, Trump’s leadership has contributed to a series of disasters. But if the polls are correct, he has so far avoided the kinds of catastrophe that could imperil his chances of re-election.




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Why this moment is challenging for Biden

Biden should be able to make a good case to the American people at this moment that he is the more effective leader.

But this has not yet been reflected in polls, most of which continue to give the Democrat only a lukewarm advantage over Trump in the election.

The other problem is that the Democratic party remains discordant. And Biden has not yet shown a capacity to heal it.




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Race has also long been a source of division within Biden’s party. Southern Democrats, for instance, were the key agents of slavery in the 19th century and the segregation that followed it into the 20th.

After the 1960s, Democrats sought to make themselves the natural home of African-American voters as the Republican party courted disaffected white Southern voters. The Democrats largely succeeded on that front – the party routinely gets around 85-90% of black votes in presidential elections.

The challenge for Biden now is how to retain African-American loyalty to his party, while evading responsibility for the socio-economic failures of Democratic policies in cities like Minneapolis.

He is also a white northerner (from Delaware). Between 1964 and 2008, only three Democrats were elected president. All of them were southerners.

To compensate, Biden has had to rely on racial politics to separate himself from his primary challenger – Bernie Sanders struggled to channel black aspirations – and from Republicans. And this has, at times, caused him to court controversy.

In 2012, he warned African-Americans that then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would put them “all back in chains”. And just over a week ago, he angered black voters by suggesting those who would support Trump in the election “ain’t black”.

Biden is far better than Trump on racial issues and should be able to use the current crises to present himself as a more natural “consoler-in-chief”, but instead, he has appeared somewhat flatfooted and derided for being racially patronising.

The opportunities COVID-19 and the Minneapolis unrest might afford his campaign remain elusive.

The protests over George Floyd’s death swiftly spread across the country.
ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA

There is reason for hope

America enters the final months of the 2020 campaign in a state of despair and disrepair. The choice is between an opportunistic incumbent and a tin-eared challenger.

But the US has faced serious challenges before – and emerged stronger. Neither the civil war in the 19th century or the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th halted the extraordinary growth in power that followed both.

Moreover, the US constitution remains intact and federalism has undergone something of a rebirth since the start of the pandemic. And there is a new generation of younger, more diverse, national leaders being forged in the fire of crisis to help lead the recovery.The Conversation

Timothy J. Lynch, Associate Professor in American Politics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Third time’s the charm for Joe Biden: now he has an election to win and a country to save



AAP/EPA/Tracie van Auken

Bruce Wolpe, University of Sydney

At age 77, in his twilight years, the third time was the charm for Joe Biden.

He prevailed over a field of 24 Democrats from across the political spectrum and has emerged as his party’s nominee for president in a manner unthinkable in January: a united party, from left to right, across race and creed, age and ideology. He is the victor despite mediocre fundraising, no digital media traction, no base of wild enthusiasts. Voters had to consider his appeals before coming to understand and then accept that it was indeed Joe Biden, who failed in his bids for the White House in 1988 and 2008, who was the strongest Democrat to go up against Donald Trump and take him out.




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Biden’s essence is unchanged from that first race more than three decades ago. As Richard Ben Cramer reported in his legendary account of the 1988 campaign, What It Takes, Biden realised:

What Americans wanted from their government [was] just a helping hand, to make the fight for a better life for their kids, just a platform to stand on, so they could reach higher … That was his life: he was just a middle-class kid who’d got a little help along the way … and that was all he had to show. But that’s what connected him to the great body of voters in the country. That’s all he needed!

Fast-forward to Biden as vice president in the Obama administration. I captured his addresses to the Democrats in the House of Representatives. This is how I recorded two journal entries for my book (with co-author Bryan Marshall) The Committee, on Obama’s historic legislative agenda in Congress.

In 2010:

We have to help the middle class and working Americans – the people who sent us here.

In 2012:

It is absolutely clear that the decisions we made are working. And the public understands they are working […] The American people understand that the Republicans have rejected the notion of compromise. That’s not the way the American people want us to do business […] We can’t straighten them out, but the American people will in November […]

We will win based purely on the merits of our position. America is going to get an absolutely clear comparison this year. It’s a stark, stark, stark, contrast […] Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

This has been Biden’s whole life – connecting with the gut of middle America. His 2020 message is the same as he ran on in 1988. And the task is the same as when he was on the ticket with Obama in 2008: to ensure America recovers from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Biden was responsible for ensuring the delivery of the American Recovery Act – the first piece of major legislation enacted after Obama and Biden took office. Ultimately, it spurred a decade of economic growth and full employment. So Biden has been there and will work to do it again.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House in 2015.
AAP/EPA/Jonathan Ernst

A vice president to pick

We know only that it will be a woman. The oped pages and social media are on overdrive on who is best. Two things are paramount to Biden, because he knows the job and he knows what has to work.

Especially given his age, it is imperative the vice president be fully qualified and capable to step in to serve as president on her first heartbeat after his last – and is seen as such by the American people. This is where Sarah Palin was such a failure for John McCain in 2008.

Other mediocrities, both callow (Dan Quayle under George H.W. Bush) and criminal (Spiro Agnew with Richard Nixon) served but did not ascend to the presidency. Others, starting with Walter Mondale under Jimmy Carter, and then Al Gore under Bill Clinton, and Dick Cheney under George W. Bush, became true partners in governance, with real power and responsibility, and remade the office. That is the Biden template.

Biden insisted on – and received from Obama – a promise that he would be the last person in the room with the president before major decisions were taken, so he could give the full benefit of his judgment – whether the president took it or not. (Obama did not take Biden’s advice on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.)

Biden wants a vice president who can do the same with him. The virtues she would bring to the ticket, such as Amy Klobuchar’s ability to drive votes for Biden in the Midwest, and Kamala Harris, who can bring a surge of African American voters to the polls, are but the icing on the judgment Biden will make.

The second factor is chemistry: Biden has to feel with his selection the same intensity that marked Obama’s bond with him over their eight years together. So a woman who is absolutely qualified and star-studded won’t get it if Biden feels they cannot do great things together through shared conviction and trust.

Given the strike rate of vice presidents who have become president – five of the past 11 since 1952 – Biden’s choice will likely affect the future of the Democratic Party and the country for perhaps the next 12 years.

An election to win

Ask anyone in America who is politically attuned and they will tell you this is the most important election of their lifetimes. President Donald Trump has the bully pulpit of the White House where, as we have seen during the pandemic crisis, he can command the airwaves for hours every day to pound home his message. He has a TV network that has effectively become a state media channel. He has a Republican senate that will provide no check on his misbehaviour and no effort to protect the election against Russian interference or voter suppression.

Trump has 90% loyalty in the Republican Party. He has the power to declare national emergencies and launch military action to defend the United States. His campaign has a viciously effective social media war machine. He will conservatively outspend Biden by well over US$100 million. His base has not cracked – it is solid at 46% – after the pummelling Trump triggers from what he calls “fake news” and “the enemy of the people”, and after the disgrace of impeachment.

Trump’s avalanche of lies will continue unabated. He is the most shameless and relentless campaigner in modern American history. And if gets enough votes in the key states he won in 2016, he can be re-elected.




Read more:
Donald Trump blames everyone but himself for the coronavirus crisis. Will voters agree?


Biden’s task is clear: to take back those traditionally Democratic states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin – that Trump won in 2016’s outburst of populist anger at the political establishment, which included Hillary Clinton. And he must withstand and neuter the unprecedented charges of conspiracy and corruption that Trump is unleashing with “Obamagate”.

As of now, Biden leads Trump nationally by three to nine points in the polls. He is leading in three key battleground states, including Florida, and has a chance to capture Arizona and North Carolina. Trump is targeting Minnesota, New Hampshire and New Mexico. The consensus today is if the election was held now, Biden would win.

November is increasingly becoming a referendum on Trump and his management of the pandemic, and whether voters, facing disastrous hardship (over 16 million Americans lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs), trust Trump to restore the economy.

Biden’s message is already clear: Trump’s failures to appreciate the pandemic and act to protect the American people unnecessarily cost tens of thousands of lives. Biden helped bring the nation back from the Great Recession in 2009 – and knows how to do it again in 2021.

A country to heal

Biden’s campaign launch video in April 2019 could not have been clearer:

I wrote at the time [of Nazis marching in Charlottesville in 2017] that we’re in the battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that’s even more true today. I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen […] The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America, is at stake. … Even more important, we have to remember who we are. This is America.

In the late stages of the primaries, the overwhelming sentiment of most Democrats was simple: get rid of Trump. As voters could see limits to the appeal of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg simply could not reach critical mass, they decisively concluded it was Biden that everyone knew and trusted to do the job and free the country of Trump.

Because first they want America healed, too.The Conversation

Bruce Wolpe, Non-resident Senior Fellow, United States Study Centre, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Trust in government is high in NZ, but will it last until the country’s elections later in the year?


Richard Shaw, Massey University

New Zealand’s general election is currently set for September 19. Under ordinary circumstances, campaigning for the election and two referenda that will take place alongside would be heating up by now, but the country is three quarters of the way through a comprehensive level 4 lockdown.

The first question is whether the election should take place at all. Misgivings are beginning to emerge, including within the coalition government, but at the moment the answer is still a qualified yes.

Regardless of the precise date, New Zealand will be one of the first liberal parliamentary democracies to go to the polls since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it will be the most consequential election any of us have participated in.




Read more:
Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response has been a masterclass in crisis leadership


Potential for a reverse snap election

Attempting to look five months out is a fool’s game at the best of times (which these are not), but elections are how we hold elected representatives to account. Unless the numbers of ill, hospitalised or dead New Zealanders take a sharp turn for the worse, the election is likely to go ahead.

If the numbers do worsen and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opts to delay the election, there are several ways in which the date can be pushed back, but it would still likely have to be held this year.

New Zealand’s three-year parliamentary term is entrenched in the Electoral Act, under which the last possible election date is on December 5, unless 75% or more of all MPs vote to extend the term of the 52nd Parliament.

What ever happens, it does not take much to imagine the logistical challenges that COVID-19 is posing for electoral agencies. Contingency planning for various scenarios is already underway, focused on identifying ways in which people can vote if they can’t get to a booth.

Postal voting is one option, but online voting on any significant scale is probably not, because of privacy risks and technical challenges.

Trust in government to make the right call

Ardern’s calm, measured and reassuring leadership during the COVID-19 crisis has attracted plaudits at home and away – as it did a year ago following the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Unlike other Western countries, New Zealand has a goal to eliminate COVID-19, rather than containing it, and after almost three weeks in lockdown, the number of people who have recovered from the illness now exceeds the number of new cases each day.




Read more:
As NZ goes into lockdown, authorities have new powers to make sure people obey the rules


According to a recent Colmar Brunton poll, 88% of New Zealanders trust their government to make the right decisions about COVID-19 (well above the G7 average of 59%), and 83% trust it to deal successfully with national problems.

Ardern has fronted the mainstream media more or less daily, her Facebook Live appearance in a hoodie on a sofa received more views than New Zealand has people, and her communication has been crisp, clear and consistent. Go hard and go early. Stay home and save lives. Be kind.

But this is now. Come September, when people’s memories of this phase of the crisis have dulled and they are looking for a path through the social and economic damage COVID-19 is wreaking, a different political calculus will apply.




Read more:
New Zealand outstrips Australia, UK and US with $12 billion coronavirus package for business and people in isolation


The role of the state

Few may hold Ardern directly responsible for the wreckage, but she will be held to account for her administration’s response to the challenges that lie ahead.

At that point the contest becomes one of ideas. The pandemic has dragged some venerable old political issues to the surface, chief among them the relationship between state and economy.

In New Zealand, there is broad support for the speed, decisiveness and competence with which the government and its officials have acted. The language of “government failure” has largely vanished and the importance of public institutions has become clear to everyone.

So has the extent to which markets rely upon the state. Except for the truest of believers in market forces, the argument that governments should get out of the way and give the private sector free reign has become untenable. For the time being.

There is burgeoning hope that once the crisis passes we will do a lot of things differently, but a new political and economic order is not a done deal.

New political order

It may seem unlikely that swathes of voters will embrace a return to unfettered markets but it is equally improbable that many will be clamouring for a permanent highly centralised state.

Trust in government is back in fashion for the moment in New Zealand, but we simply cannot tell how widespread support for a more active state will be once the COVID-19 health crisis has waned and the country faces the economic impacts.

New Zealanders talk a good fight about egalitarianism but we are remarkably tolerant of income and wealth inequality, health disparities and homelessness. Those things and more are waiting for us on the other side of COVID-19, and while we may yet come out of this crucible with a new social contract, it will need to be fought for.

That is why the 2020 election in New Zealand matters so much. Constitutionally, New Zealanders will be choosing a House of Representatives. Really, though, we will be choosing a future, because the next government will get to chart a course not just for the next parliamentary term but for a generation.The Conversation

Richard Shaw, Professor of Politics, Massey University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Gaetjens criticises McKenzie’s handling of grants decisions, but defends his finding funding wasn’t politically biased


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The secretary of the Prime Minister’s department, Phil Gaetjens, has criticised “significant shortcomings” in Bridget McKenzie’s decision-making in the sports rorts affair, while outlining his argument that her allocation of grants was not politically biased.

Gaetjens has made his first public comments in a submission to the Senate inquiry set up to investigate the affair, which cost McKenzie her cabinet job and the deputy leadership of the Nationals.

The government has been under intense pressure to release his report, commissioned by Scott Morrison, which was used to determine McKenzie’s fate. Gaetjens, a one-time chief of staff to Morrison, exonerated her from any breach of ministerial standards on the substance of her decisions but found she had breached them by not disclosing membership of gun organisations.

While his report remains confidential Gaetjens has set out his findings in detail, which were at odds with the Audit Office conclusion the allocation of grants had a political bias.

At a bureaucratic level, the sports affair has become something of a head-to-head between the Auditor-General and the country’s most senior bureaucrat.

Gaetjens says in his submission his advice to Morrison was based on information from Sport Australia, McKenzie, and her staff.

He says there were “some significant shortcomings” in McKenzie’s decision-making role, as well as in the way Sport Australia administered the assessment process.

These included “the lack of transparency for applicants around the other factors being considered, and the disconnect between the assessment process run by Sport Australia and the assessment and decision-making process in the Minister’s Office”.

“This lack of transparency, coupled with the significant divergences between projects recommended by Sport Australia and those approved by the Minister have given rise to concerns about the funding decision-making,” he says.

“The discrepancy between the number of applications recommended by Sport Australia and the final list of approved applications clearly shows the Minister’s Office undertook a separate and non-transparent process in addition to the assessment by Sport Australia”.

Gaetjens says McKenzie informed him her approvals were designed to get “a fair spread of grants according to state, region, party, funding stream and sport, in addition to the criteria assessed by Sport Australia”.

He rejects the Audit claim McKenzie’s approach was based on the much talked about spreadsheet of November 2018 that was colour coded according to party, and says she told him she had never seen that spreadsheet.

“The ANAO Report … asserts that the Adviser’s spreadsheet is evidence that ‘the Minister’s Office had documented the approach that would be adopted to selecting successful applicants’ before funding decisions were made. However, there is persuasive data that backs up the conclusion that the Minister’s decisions to approve grants were not based on the Adviser’s spreadsheet,” Gaetjens writes.

The evidence included the significant length of time between the spreadsheet and the approvals. Also, 30% of the applications listed as successful on the adviser’s spreadsheet did not get funding approval .

“So, on the evidence available to me, there is a material divergence between actual outcomes of all funded projects and the approach identified in the Adviser’s spreadsheet. This does not accord with the ANAO Report”, which found funding reflected the political approach documented by McKenzie’s office.

Gaetjens says had McKenzie just followed Sport Australia’s initial list, 30 electorates would have got no grants. In the final wash up only five missed out (no applications had come from three of them).

“I did not find evidence that the separate funding approval process conducted in the Minister’s office was unduly influenced by reference to ‘marginal’ or ‘targeted’ electorates. Evidence provided to me indicated that the Adviser’s spreadsheet was developed by one member of staff in the Minister’s Office, using information provided by Sport Australia in September 2018, as a worksheet to support an increase in funding for the Program.

“Senator McKenzie advised me in response to a direct question that she had never seen the Adviser’s spreadsheet and that neither she nor her staff based their assessments on it.

“Her Chief of Staff also told the Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet that the Adviser had categorically stated she had not shown the spreadsheet to the Minister.”

Rejecting the Audit Office conclusion of a bias to marginal and targeted seats, Gaetjens says “180 ‘marginal’ and ‘targeted’ projects were recommended by Sport Australia, and 229 were ultimately approved by the Minister, representing a 27 per cent increase. This is smaller than the percentage increase of projects recommended (325) to projects funded (451) in non-marginal or non-targeted seats which was 39 per cent.”

“The evidence I have reviewed does not support the suggestion that political considerations were the primary determining factor in the Minister’s decisions to approve the grants”. So he had concluded she did not breach the section of the ministerial standard requiring fairness, Gaetjens writes.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How big money influenced the 2019 federal election – and what we can do to fix the system


Kate Griffiths, Grattan Institute; Danielle Wood, Grattan Institute, and Tony Chen, Grattan Institute

Amid the ongoing bushfire and coronavirus crises – and the political kerfuffle surrounding the Nationals and Greens – you’d be forgiven for missing the annual release of the federal political donations data this week.

Nine months after the 2019 federal election, voters finally get a look at who funded the political parties’ campaigns.

The data reveals that big money matters in Australian elections more than ever, and donations are highly concentrated among a small number of powerful individuals, businesses and unions.

These are significant vulnerabilities in Australia’s democracy and reinforce why substantial reforms are needed to prevent wealthy interests from exercising too much influence in Australian politics.

Largest donations in Australian political history

The big story of the 2019 election was Clive Palmer, who donated A$84 million via his mining company Mineralogy to his own campaign – a figure that dwarfs all other donations as far back as the records go. The previous record – also held by Palmer – was A$15 million at the 2013 election.

While Palmer failed to win any seats last year, he ran a substantial anti-Labor advertising campaign, and claimed credit for the Coalition’s victory.




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There are obviously many factors in an election win, but this raises a serious question: how much influence should we allow any single interest to hold over the national debate, especially during the critically important election period?


Grattan Institute

Several other large donors also emerged at this election. A A$4 million donation to the Liberal Party from the company Sugolena, owned by a private investor and philanthropist, takes the prize for the largest-ever non-Palmer donation.

Businessman Anthony Pratt donated about A$1.5 million to each of the major parties through his paper and packaging company Pratt Holdings. The hotels lobby, which has been influential in preventing pokies reforms in past state and federal elections, also donated about A$500,000 to the Coalition and A$800,000 to Labor.

Money buys access and sometimes influence

A 2018 Grattan Institute report, Who’s in the room? Access and influence in Australian politics, showed how money can buy relationships and political connections. The political parties rely heavily on major donors, and as a result, major donors get significant access to ministers.

While explicit quid pro quo is probably rare, the risk is in more subtle influences – that donors get more access to policymakers and their views are given more weight. These risks are exacerbated by a lack of transparency in dealings between policymakers and special interests.

Big money improves the chances of influence. But it also matters to election outcomes.




Read more:
Mineral wealth, Clive Palmer, and the corruption of Australian politics


Looking back at the past five federal elections, an interesting correlation is evident: the party with the biggest war chest tends to form government.

It’s only a sample of five, and it’s unclear whether higher spending drives the election result or donors simply get behind the party most likely to win.

But in 2019, Labor was widely expected to win, so its smaller war chest supports the proposition that money assists in delivering power.



Grattan Institute

What policymakers should do to protect Australia’s democracy

Money in politics needs to be better regulated to reduce the risk of interest groups “buying” influence – and elections.

Real transparency is the first step. Half of private funding remains hidden from public view due to Australia’s high disclosure threshold and loopholes in the federal donations rules.

Only donations of more than A$14,000 need to be on the public record, and political parties don’t have to aggregate multiple donations below the threshold from the same donor – meaning major donors can simply split their donations to hide their identity.



Grattan Institute

Parliament should improve the transparency of political donations by

  • lowering the federal donations disclosure threshold to A$5,000, so all donations big enough to matter are on the public record;

  • requiring political parties to aggregate multiple donations from the same donor, so big donors can’t hide

  • requiring quicker release of donations data, so voters have information on who funds elections during the campaign – not nine months later.

These simple rule changes would bring Australia’s federal political donations regime in line with most states and OECD nations. The current regime leaves voters in the dark.

But the donations data shows transparency is not enough to protect Australia’s democracy from the influence of a handful of wealthy individuals. Ultimately, to reduce the influence of money in politics, parliament should introduce an expenditure cap during election campaigns.




Read more:
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Parties and candidates can currently spend as much money as they can raise, so big money means greater capacity to sell your message to voters.

Capping political expenditure by political parties – and third parties – would reduce the influence of wealthy individuals. And it would reduce the donations “arms race” between the major parties, giving senior politicians more time to do their job instead of chasing dollars.The Conversation

Kate Griffiths, Fellow, Grattan Institute; Danielle Wood, Program Director, Budget Policy and Institutional Reform, Grattan Institute, and Tony Chen, Researcher, Grattan Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

So the government gave sports grants to marginal seats. What happens now?


Maria O’Sullivan, Monash University

When Australians pay their income tax, they assume the money is going to areas of the community that need it, rather than being used by the government to shore up votes for the next election.

This is why the findings of the Australian National Audit Office into the awarding of community sporting grants by cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie are serious. Not merely for the grant funding process, but also for trust in our system of government.

What did the report find?

The Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program was established in 2018 to ensure more Australians have access to quality sporting facilities, encouraging greater community participation in sport and physical activity.

The Audit Office was asked to examine this grant program to assess whether the award of funding “was informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice”. The focus was therefore on whether proper procedures were followed.

The report was extremely critical of the way in which the A$100 million in sporting grants were awarded by Minister McKenzie ahead of last year’s election campaign.

It found successful applications were “not those that had been assessed as the most meritorious” and that there was “distributional bias” in the way projects were approved. The problem is many of the grants were awarded to bodies within marginal seats or seats the Coalition wanted to win.

This is a serious matter because it represents a politicisation of a grant system which is supposed to be undertaken on merit.

What does this mean for the government?

The fact the Audit Office has made this finding is important. But what happens now and what will the consequences be? Will there be an investigation? If so, by whom?

Importantly, the Audit Office is an independent body. In the absence of a federal integrity commission, it has a significant role to play in ensuring government funds are spent for proper purposes. A central part of the role of the Audit Office is to uncover and report on fraud and corruption in government decisions. But it does not have coercive powers and its report does not have any direct legal effect on Senator McKenzie.

If there is to be a further investigation of this matter, it’s likely to be taken up by a parliamentary forum such as Senate Estimates. What is more significant are the consequences of the Audit report.

Legal consequences

The first point to understand is that the direct legal consequences of the Audit Office finding are minimal. The report made four recommendations for future reform of the sporting grant procedure. While the Audit Office is very well-regarded by decision makers and commands respect, it is not a court. Therefore its recommendations are not binding and can be ignored by government.

What is more significant are the legal implications of the Audit report.

Here the problem is the Audit Office found the minister did not have legal authority to approve the grants in the first place. This is because the legal power to approve the sporting grants is actually given to Sport Australia (under the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989).

That legislation says the minister can give written directions to Sport Australia in relation to the exercise of its powers. But Senator McKenzie actually made the decisions on the grants (rather than merely give written directions to Sport Australia).

This is, however, somewhat of a theoretical argument as it is unlikely anyone will be able to bring this matter to court to invalidate the grant decisions made. Given community sporting groups who were disadvantaged by the improper grant process are community groups in need of funding, it’s unlikely they will be in a position to bring an expensive legal action.

Political consequences

It’s therefore likely the consequences of this report will be political rather than legal.

Here the political convention of “ministerial responsibility” should, ideally, come into play. This gives effect to the broader principle that the Australian people give authority and power to elected politicians and those politicians must be accountable for their actions.

This means McKenzie could be asked to resign. However, the Senator has indicated she will not resign, saying “no rules were broken” and she was given discretionary powers “for a purpose” in the program’s guidelines.

And this is one of the problems with ministerial responsibility today: it largely depends on whether the relevant party feel it’s politically necessary to pressure the relevant minister to stand down.

The current strength of this principle in modern Australia has been questioned, with many saying it’s no longer effective. For instance, journalist Tony Wright wrote in 2019:

Ministerial responsibility in Canberra appears to have all but decayed to no responsibility.

So, there may be no political consequences in this matter at all.

Implications for Australian democracy

The Audit Office of Australia is a respected, independent institution and its findings this week should have consequences.

Trust in government, which should be central to a healthy democracy, is at an historical low in Australia. Governments need to make decisions which are transparent and fair. A government that bends the rules is a danger to the rule of law and to democracy.The Conversation

Maria O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, and Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.